Former PNG police chiefs in and out of jail

5:40 pm on 19 December 2016

Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has acquitted the former police commissioner Geoffrey Vaki of two counts of contempt of court and quashed his jail sentence.

Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki

Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki Photo: RNZI

Mr Vaki had been convicted last year and sentenced to three years jail for obstructing police fraud squad members from enforcing an arrest warrant against the prime minister Peter O'Neill in 2014.

Last Friday a three-judge bench upheld Mr Vaki's appeal, finding that the arrest warrant had not been properly served with reference to Mr Vaki as the then Police Commissioner.

Meanwhile, another former police commissioner Sir Tom Kulunga will serve seven months at Bomana jail after the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal against contempt convictions.

The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea.

The Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

Sir Tom in June 2014 was found by the court to have failed to reinstate Mr Vaki as a senior police officer after being suspended four years earlier over a misconduct allegation.

Mr Vaki subsequently challenged his suspension in the National Court and was successful.

However Sir Tom's refusal to follow the court directive and reinstate Mr Vaki resulted in him being charged with contempt of court.

It happened in the same month that the fraud squad officers sought to arrest Mr O'Neill over his role in allegedly illegal state payments to a law firm.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill gives a talk at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on May 14, 2015

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Photo: AFP / Peter Parks

Mr Kulunga as the presiding police commissioner made a decision to voluntarily step down after being charged.

Geoffrey Vaki was then appointed as the new police commissioner.

He served for just over a year in the role until shortly before his own conviction for contempt.

Mr Vaki was replaced as commissioner by Gary Baki who had suspended him over the alleged misconduct in 2010 when Mr Baki was previously the police chief.

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